This is part 2 of the Aidpreneur.com training on finding opportunities for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs.
The first step in setting up your process for finding RFAs, RFPs in RFQs is to determine your geographic scope, or where you will deliver your products or services. This may seem so simple that you’re wondering why we’ve included this as a separate step. As I mentioned in the introduction to this training, and elsewhere here on Aidpreneur, one of the classic pitfalls experienced by independent professionals and small companies is failing to be clear about the “simple things”. Let me give you a few examples:
As an independent professional, especially if you are just starting out, it is very common to “take the work where you can get it.” At first, this may seem like a completely reasonable proposition – if you are based in Colombia, but the work you have been hired for is in Côte d’Ivoire, getting on an airplane to go and execute that work is not unreasonable. However, as you continue to grow your practice and become more successful, it’s highly likely that you will be asked to travel more and more. For the independent professional, there are several critical considerations that come to light very quickly, such as: how many days per month can I reasonably work? Am I able to spend enough time with my family? And, does it make the most sense for me to be based in my current location?
Geographic considerations are slightly more complex for a small company. At International Solutions Group, we implement programming for clients around the world because we have chosen to focus on a particular expertise rather than on a particular location. However, geographic considerations still play an important role in identifying opportunities.
For example, a significant amount of work that is a good fit for our expertise is tendered at a local government level – at a city or municipality or ministry level in various countries.It rarely makes sense for ISG to enter a bid for these types of opportunities because we judge the requirement to operate locally and the difficulty of winning bids against local competition significant obstacles to success.
The first step in determining your geographic scope is to define your understanding of the terms “local,” “regional,” and “international.”
Ask yourself what “local” means to you. Are you interested in providing services in your community? In your town or city? Or does the term local extend as far as the borders of your country?
Next ask yourself what “regional” means to you. Is your region the collection of towns and cities that are immediately connected to your base of operation? Perhaps regional means the set of counties or districts that surround your district or county? Or perhaps regionally means a set of countries that share borders with your country? Or maybe you prefer to think of regional on a grander scale, such as Central Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America.
Finally ask yourself or your team what you mean by “international”. Again, I realize this may sound a bit silly. But I have found that individual and group perceptions of what international means can be incredibly different. Ask yourself: does international refer to anything outside the borders of your country? Or would working internationally mean only those countries with which you’re familiar? Or perhaps internationally means only the countries in the global South?
Write down your answers to each of these questions. Let me repeat that. It’s important that you write down your answers to each of these questions so that this becomes a real exercise rather than a theoretical exercise. Writing it down makes it real.
After you have created definitions for local, regional and international that make the most sense for you as an independent professional or small company, you need to compare those definitions against your business model, your chosen niche and how you intend to add value for your customers or clients. The goal of this comparison exercise is to determine whether or not you actually have a recipe for a viable practice or business. Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you are a new NGO in Tajikistan whose niche is providing advocacy services for handicapped or physically impaired individuals. Your business model is that you acquire funding through local donations, and your special sauce or unique added value relates to work you performed on a recently passed healthcare law in the country.
When considering geographic scope for this particular NGO, local and regional probably correlate to Taijikistan, and international probably means anything outside the borders of the country. In these contexts, the NGO can determine the size of its staff, the number of campaigns it can handle on an annual basis and how it can most effectively serve its target market.
After determining the geographic scope of your practice or company, the next step is to determine the type of funding you will pursue. This is the topic of the next module in this training. Thank you for participating in this training on finding opportunities for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. Remember. if you have any questions at all, please email us at training@Aidpreneur.com.